THOUSANDS of Casino locals and out-of-towners descended on the Beef Week breakfast yesterday to devour close to half a tonne of beef in under three hours.
The giant community barbecue was a serious affair with seven full-size barbies each manned by two to three chefs sizzling hard from 6.30am.
Veteran barbie chef Johnny Nicholls said it was the community spirit that kept him coming back to the hot plate for the last 25 years.
Mr Nicholls, a cattle breeder, was also looking forward to putting his three best steers on display in today's cattle competition, which will transform Casino's main roundabout into a genuine show ring.
"I haven't had a champ yet but I hope tomorrow is my day," he said. "The quality of cattle here is equivalent to the Brisbane Royal."
For the thousands queuing up for the free feed, it was a social time with the town abuzz with excitement and chatter.
Once the general public had their fill of snags and steak, it was time for three Beef Week celebrities to deliver their verdict in the sausage competition.
Richmond Mayor Ernie Bennett, sponsor Crowe Horwath's Andrew Stevens, and Beef Week Queen Brooke Hancock chewed over the nine entries for several minutes before coming to a consensus.
Mr Stevens said it was very challenging to pick a winner, with each snag delivering a different taste and texture sensation.
"It's a completely personal thing," he remarked.
Mayor Bennett agreed, commenting that each judge had picked a different winner so it was a matter of preference and the finer details that ultimately decided the result.
In the end it was Walker Street's Smith's Butchery that emerged as king of the snags, taking out both first and second prize.
Smith's chief butcher Grant Shedden was on hand to take the trophies, commenting that Richmond Valley produced "the best meat anywhere - but we already knew that".
He shared his "secret ingredients" in the winning snags: his "dad's famous red pumpkins" combined with locallimousin beef.
Beef Week president Stuart George said it was another huge year for Casino's biggest community event.
"There had to be four to five thousand people this morning," he said. "The crowds have been enormous at all the events.
"We couldn't be more happy with the way it's gone."
Mr George said every year roughly 95% of people in surveys said they would be back the following year.
"Casino is very proud of Beef Week. People love it; it brings out that community pride in the town, which is wonderful to see.
"There's not many towns in Australia where the main roundabout becomes a cattle ring."
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